What Should I Do After a Car Wreck Death in Fort Myers?

Losing a loved one from one moment to the next in a tragic car accident is a life-changing experience that can leave a family emotionally and financially devastated. Knowing what you should do after a death from a car wreck in Fort Myers could be vital for rebuilding your life after a painful and heartbreaking loss. 

If someone else caused the accident and passing of your loved one, you could be entitled to damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of benefits, and others. Morgan & Morgan’s determined and compassionate wrongful death lawyers can help you navigate the legal system and fight for what you deserve. Contact us today to discover for free how you could get justice and compensation. 

What to Do After A Car Wreck Death

An unexpected death in the family can be a huge shock and leave you paralyzed with grief. However, if the accident was avoidable and happened due to another party’s fault, you could be entitled to damages. Knowing which steps to take can protect your right to compensation. Consider taking action as soon as you can. The following steps can be a good start for protecting your rights:

  • Contact a wrongful death lawyer 
  • Gather evidence of the crash, such as the police report
  • Collect and organize proof of your damages 

One of our seasoned wrongful death attorneys can walk you through your options and determine the best course of action. 

Fort Myers Fatal Car Accidents 

Fatal traffic accidents are on the rise in the Fort Myers area. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), Lee County saw 109 fatalities from all types of motor vehicle crashes in 2020. Despite pandemic-related restrictions and more individuals working from home, the figures show a marked increase from 2019. 

Causes of Fatal Car Accidents

While there can be various causes for accidents, driver error or negligence is often identified as a reason for fatal crashes. Examples of negligent driving can include:

Distracted Driving 

Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that distracted driving accounted for 3,142 traffic fatalities in 2019. Distracted driving does not only encompass texting while driving but can also include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Grooming while driving
  • Playing loud music
  • Reaching for something on the floor
  • Interacting with passengers in the back

Driving Intoxicated

Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs can have catastrophic consequences. According to the NHTSA, one individual dies in an alcohol-related crash in the U.S. every 52 minutes. If an impaired driver caused your loved one’s accident and death, you could sue and recover damages.

Excessive Speeding

Speeding kills. Figures from the NHTSA show that 9,478 persons died in accidents involving speeding in 2019 alone. If another driver was driving over the posted speed limit when the crash occurred, you could have legal recourse. It is important to note that an individual can also be guilty of speeding when they drive within the posted speed limit but too fast for weather or road conditions. 

Poor Road Construction or Vehicle Defects Cause Fatal Crashes

Not all fatal accidents occur due to another person’s reckless or negligent driving. If your loved one passed away in an accident that happened due to a road or vehicle defect, you could also have legal recourse and potentially sue the at-fault party. You could have a case against a car manufacturer or local government entity, for example. 
An attorney from our firm can investigate your case thoroughly and determine all potentially liable parties, which could provide you with various avenues for recovering damages.

Liability in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit when a family member is killed in a car crash can help the family recover damages. Wrongful death generally describes an avoidable accident and death that occurred due to another’s carelessness, recklessness, or deliberate action.

To have a chance at recovering compensation in a lawsuit, the family of the deceased must prove the responsible party’s negligence. Legally, they have to prove the following elements of a wrongful death lawsuit with the appropriate evidence: 

Duty of care – the at-fault party owed the decedent a duty of care. All motor vehicle drivers and road users have a duty of care towards others and must act reasonably when in control of a vehicle.

Breach of duty – the at-fault party breached their duty, for example, by violating road laws.

Causation – the fatal car crash occurred due to the breach of duty.

Damages – surviving family members suffered damages arising from the death of their loved one, such as medical bills, emotional suffering, loss of income, and others.

Proving fault and liability in wrongful death car crashes can be tricky, especially if there are several potential at-fault parties or the decedent had a degree of fault in the accident. However, one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys could analyze your case, collect vital evidence, and help prove liability. 

You Could Recover Compensation

Generally, the following close family members of the car wreck victim could receive damages with a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Minor children
  • Parents of a minor child 
  • Others suffering losses due to the death of the victim

Damages Recoverable

According to Florida law, survivors could be entitled to damages for loss of potential earnings of the deceased as well as loss of companionship, instruction, and guidance.
Damages you could recover will vary on your specific case and can include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical costs before death
  • Pain and suffering of the decedent before passing
  • Emotional distress of surviving family members
  • Loss of the deceased’s income and future earning capacity 
  • Loss of benefits from the deceased
  • Loss of companionship for the spouse
  • Loss of parental guidance for any minor children

Filing a Car Wreck Death Lawsuit

In Florida, a representative of the victim’s estate, named in the estate plan, is generally responsible for filing the lawsuit. If the decedent did not have a will, the court typically appoints the surviving spouse to represent the estate. The representative then goes ahead and files the claim on behalf of all other close family members who have incurred damages due to the death of the victim. 

Florida Statute of Limitations

If you are considering filing a lawsuit after a car wreck death in Fort Myers, you should be aware that the time for doing so is generally limited. As per Florida Statute section 95.11, family members of car wreck victims only have two years in general for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Fort Myers. 

However, there are exceptions to the statute that could, in certain circumstances, shorten or lengthen the time you have available for initiating legal action. If you are unsure what you should do after a death in a car wreck in Fort Myers, consider contacting an attorney. A wrongful death lawyer from our law firm can advise you comprehensively and ensure that your lawsuit is filed within the applicable deadlines.

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